Craig Huseby, owner of Huseby Homes, in Nashville, Tenn., says that the objective for his company’s small-jobs division is twofold: satisfy clients and keep your overhead low. And he sees a connection between the two.

To ensure that clients are happy and satisfied, you must have motivated employees. It may be intangible, but clients have to sense that there is “a team of engaging people happy to be in [their] home working,” Huseby says. “And to be competitive, overhead has to be low.”

Last year Huseby decided to pay his project manager/production manager a lower salary plus commission. “It gives him incentive long-term, and he’ll want to increase the company’s overall volume since it increases his bottom line,” Huseby says.

Satisfaction + Probability

The commission, which is 5% of the job contract price, is based on client satisfaction and job profitability. Huseby uses two surveys, one midway through the project and the other at project completion, with questions that specifically address the project manager’s work.

But the project manager also must hit an agreed upon mark for profitability to get the commission. “Part of the job description is to estimate and run the project profitably,” Huseby says. The project manager “has the ability to affect the full circle of the job.”

Everyone Grows

At Huseby Homes, the project manager also does some carpentry on jobs and receives the standard benefits offered to all employees, including bonuses. Huseby operates the small-jobs division with open-book management, so the project manager is well aware of his role in the company’s success. “He has a lot of ambition about what his take-home pay will be,” Huseby says. “He told me that in two years his salary is going to be $100,000, and I don’t feel threatened. If he does that we’ll increase our volume. That’s what’s exciting about it for me. There’s a synergy in growth and revenue and being successful. It’s a win-win for both parties.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.